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Should You Live In A Nursing Home?

A nursing home is a housing option for those who need a high level of medical care.

In addition to help with activities of daily living, such as cooking and cleaning, dressing and grooming, walking, using the toilet, and managing medications, nursing homes also have doctors or nurses on the premises at all times to care for residents and in case of emergency.


Nursing homes are designed to provide near-constant care to residents. This means that residents often live in either a bedroom with a bathroom or a shared bedroom. Rooms may be furnished or unfurnished. All rooms come equipped with emergency call systems in the room. Most nursing homes have a dining room and at least one common room for socializing, while some also have features like libraries, outdoor spaces, and other recreational facilities.


Most nursing homes will create a care plan that meets your particular needs, even if those needs should change over time. The basic services that a nursing home will provide are:

  • Meals
  • Housekeeping, including laundry
  • Transportation assistance
  • Help with bathing, going to the bathroom, dressing, and walking
  • Help managing medications
  • 24-hour nurses and staff
  • 24-hour emergency medical services
  • Facility security
  • On-site physical therapy and occupational therapy

In addition, some facilities may offer:

  • Scheduled entertainment and recreational activities
  • On-staff medical specialists

Nursing Home Costs

Nursing homes are very expensive, and on average cost about $6000 per month. Depending on how long the nursing home stay will be, there are a number of different ways of paying for a nursing home. Medicare will cover a short-term stay in a nursing home (usually about 100 days), and often requires that the stay take place within 100 days of a hospitalization. (Medicare is a health insurance program available to U.S. residents over the age of 65 who have paid the standard Medicare tax for no less than 10 years. Nearly all Americans qualify for Medicare.) If you qualify for Medicaid, that insurance will likely cover most of the costs of a nursing home, though not all nursing homes accept Medicaid. Long-term care insurance may cover some or all of the costs of a nursing home, depending on the rules of your policy.

For a more complete list of issues to look out for when evaluating a nursing home, use our resource Checklist: Questions to Consider When Choosing a Nursing Home.

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